Lawyers appeal for new legislation following violent incidents in court

The Government has been asked to bring in new laws to protect lawyers in court after a series of violent incidents, The Irish Times report.

The Law Reform Commission (LRC) is making the proposals following complaints from barristers and judges.

Dublin barrister Gillian Finane (pictured) was attacked by a prisoner in Dolphin House earlier this month.

Ms Finane was briefing a prisoner in a consultation room in the Dublin Districts Family Courts when he took out an improvised blade and held it to her face and neck.

She was unhurt though badly shaken and three prison officers who came to her aid were injured.

Some barristers have contacted the Bar of Ireland to voice their anger.

A Bar of Ireland spokeswoman said it had been addressing the issue for some time.

“While we do not comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentiality and in sensitivity to those involved, this shocking event and other recent high-profile incidents involving assaults on barristers are of utmost concern to the Bar of Ireland,” she said. “Issues of safety and security for barristers are an absolute priority for the Bar and these matters have been raised with the offices of the Chief Justice, President of the High Court and the Courts Service.”

Senior legal sources said the recommendations, to be published later this year, will be part of a broader initiative to tidy up the contempt of court regime, which critics have said it vague at present.

But some lawyers do not think new laws are needed.

Barrister Dean Kelly said: “It’s nonsense. It’s always been a crime to put a knife to someone’s throat and you don’t need a special law for when it’s a judge or a barrister. What’s needed is a security presence in the courtrooms, something that is not being provided at the moment.”